Just a few hours after President Obama had vowed to cut the federal deficit in half over the next four years, Democrats in the House rolled out a $410 billion dollar spending bill.
That measure is designed to fund federal operations from early March until the end of September, when the current fiscal year comes to an end.
Nine major spending bills weren't finished by the Congress late last year, so they are all being rolled together into one bill.
And while the fine folks at the House Appropriations Committee made all the documents associated with this behemoth searchable, they again aren't in a format that can be easily massaged and put on the internet in anything but a scanned pdf format.
Why is that important?
Because knowledge is power. And when it's not easy for the citizenry to see what's in these bills, it's not easy for them to get fired up about it.
As I type this, I have spent the better part of the last three hours trying to come up with some solution, but again I am left spitting and sputtering.
"This is called "slow-walking," a technique for preventing something from being done by making it so laborious that only a few demented souls will stay it through," railed a blogger from the DC Examiner newspaper.
I am demented, I will admit.
There are thousands of pork barrel projects in this thing. And the Democrats (just like the Republicans who did the same thing a few years ago) aren't embarrassed by it one bit.
The first section I looked at was the transportation funding portion of the bill, because that's usually where you can find all kinds of road and bridge projects.
They weren't in the stimulus, but boy, they are in this bill. On page three of the transportation section, I found a series of earmarks just sitting there on the table.
Ballast water research. UW-Superior, WI $950,000 Great Lakes maritime research institute, WI $950,000 Fire and Oil Spill Response Communications Project, WA $1,520,000 Commercial Vehicle Rollover Prevention Technology Demonstration, MI $950,000 Inland Pacific Hub Analysis Project, WA $237,500 Advanced Freight Locomotive Safety and Monitoring Systems Implementation, MA $950,000 Wildlife Crossing Project, FL $950,000 University Transportation Center~ MS $475,000 Freight transportation policy institute, WA $475,000 Assessment of Critical Transportation Infrastructure, MS $712,500 Decision Support Tools for Transportation Resilience and Security, MS $712,500 National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University, KS $950,000
I sort of like the "Wildlife Crossing Project," because it doesn't say where it is in the state of Florida - just "FL."
I can't even start to give you a rundown on what's in these bills. You would need a group of researchers to go through it and find the needle in the legislative haystack.
Business as usual is what this is. It's the only way that both parties know how to operate.
The members of the state ethics commission, eager to bring order to one of the most disordered corners of state government, hired a “receiver” last week to heal their agency and then did they only thing they could.
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